Why watch out when Santa comes to town, when Krampus is the one to be watched?
Half-goat and half-demon. That’s how people in both Austria and Germany describe Krampus. With his bearing horns, dark hair, fangs, and a long tongue, this creature is equipped with a chain and bells, along with a bundle of birch sticks, with a purpose to swat naughty children that will be brought to the underworld.
Krampus is the son of Hel – daughter of Loki and overseer of the land of the dead – in Norse mythology. His name is derived from a German word krampen, which means claw. He is believed to share characteristics with other scary and demonic creatures in Greek mythology, such as Satyrs and Fauns.
Historically, he tags along with St. Nicholas and comes around the night of December 5th, where Christmas celebrations begin. For those who don’t know yet, St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children. Many Europeans welcome this man as a figure of generosity to reward the good kids. But unfortunately, they also fear his menacing counterpart who punishes the bad. His name is Krampus. Following St. Nicholas to enter people’s home, he does the opposite thing that St. Nicholas does. While St. Nicholas puts candies in the shoes of the good kids and birch twigs in the shoes of the bad, legend brought it that the mischief kids are beaten with birch twigs by Krampus, or worse, they’re brought to the underworld, where he comes from to be either tortured or eaten.
Due to his popularity, these days, people in Austria and Germany celebrate a day called “The Krampusnacht”. Basically, this festival consists a bunch of men dressed as Krampus and run through the streets to scare the children. Theoretically, you can say it’s like a fusion between Christmas and Halloween at the same time. Unlike your wonted halloween costumes, the Krampus costume itself is not one of those regular costumes that you can get at your local costume shops. It’s traditionally made up of a hand-carved wooden mask and a suit that was made from sheep or goat skin. Hold up! The costume is not complete yet until cowbells are worn around the wearer’s hips. But, if you look at the materials of the costume, you would think that the costume costs a fortune, and that is true. Lots of people feel like the costume is a bit pricey. That’s why, the costume’s now made with less expensive materials, such as faux fur and face paint, as the alternative for the wooden mask.
So, after reading the whole thing, I’ve got to ask.
Which one do you prefer: Being on Santa’s naughty list? Or being on Krampus’ radar?
Anyway, you better watch out, you better not cry..
Because Krampus might come and get you tonight..
Merry Christmas to those who celebrates!
Words by: Nat Padma
Header credits: Google
Sources: history things, smithsonianmag, history